Onic Palandjian

CEO , Europa Aluminium

This conversation is closed.

To start a movement towards Password-free Internet access

Today, there is almost full wireless network coverage in many urban areas - One could roam around and always be connected to Internet if the nodes were open to the public, but due to security concerns, most nodes are encrypted. Many people consider it proper etiquette to leave access points open to the public, allowing free access to Internet. Others think the default encryption provides substantial protection at small inconvenience. 

It shouldn't involve any significant risks to open up wireless networks for the public:
The wireless network is after all confined to a small geographical area. A computer connected to the Internet and having improper configurations or other security problems can be exploited by anyone from anywhere in the world, while only clients in a small geographical range can exploit an open wireless access point. Thus the exposure is low with an open wireless access point, and the risks with having an open wireless network are small. 

It is very common to pay a fixed monthly fee for the Internet connection, and not for the traffic - thus extra traffic will not hurt.
Where Internet connections are plentiful and cheap, freeloaders will seldom be a prominent nuisance.
On the other hand, in some countries including, persons providing an open access point may be made (partially) liable for any illegal activity conducted via this access point. Also, many contracts with ISPs specify that the connection may not be shared with other persons.
Your thoughts?

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    Apr 19 2011: It could be a good movement but as you correctly mentioned there are some problems we should concern. Even though, in South Korea, there are lots of Password-free internet access points, it is ,in my opinion, dangerous to leave this wifi without password because these wifi points are vulnerable to many crimes or abuse.
    So, my answer is that we should keep our personal wifi encrypted but the government should give free wifi points(even encrypted but free to use). We should focus on not password "free" internet access but "free of charge" or cheap internet access.
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    Apr 17 2011: I'm no expert in that area, but for me it seems that both types of acess could co-exist. There could be a public network, provided by the government, for simple acess and operations that do not require absolute security. At the same time, there would be private networks, which would be used for bank transactions, work classified operations and stuff. IT experts, please help us, the mere mortals: is it viable?
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      Apr 17 2011: It would be extremely expensive. Millions for installation, and a few hundreds per month from then on. That's enough of a reason for any government to turn such a thing down.

      And the reason it is expensive is exactly because Wi-Fi has a very small range. WiMAX has a larger range, but to make it country wide, you still need a lot of initial investment, and the monthly fees don't change regardless of whether we're talking about Wi-Fi or WiMAX.

      The only way a government can conceive of the idea of granting free Internet access is if a government institution itself is made an ISP. And not just any ISP... and ISP with a direct ICANN license and allocated addresses. That way, they are left only with paying for their own stuff, without any money going into any private hands.

      That would be too much of a challenge for any government to take though.
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    Apr 17 2011: Nice idea, but there are still enough reasons to lock your Wi-Fi network.
    One example is filesharing, at least here in Germany if your wireless network is open to all and someone downloads illegal stuff, you as the owner are responsible and have to pay the industry. In Germany you are by law forced to have at least a WEP encryption - which in the meantime anyone can break - but you need it.

    The thing is once you open your wireless you can no longer be responsible for what people do with it... and that will not change any time soon.
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    Apr 16 2011: @Onic Palandjian
    The assertion that any Internet connected computer is vulnerable to attack is incomplete... it's true, but the closer you are to your victim device in terms of network hops, the more attacks you can target the attacked device with.

    IPv6 has a built in encryption that is going to make currently unencrypted traffic encrypted... in a way. It would still allow for the data to be spied (no way around that on that level), but at least it would prevent alterations and hijacking within the session that is possible with the current protocols. It's about time ISPs switch to it anyway.

    But even if people aren't concerned with security, there's also the simple reason that strangers will take away your speed, and no one wants that. Unless we're talking about a sophisticated routers like those from MikroTik or Cisco, there is no option to make it so that strangers don't take any more than a certain speed when you're on... at least none on any home router I've ever seen.

    "It is very common to pay a fixed monthly fee for the Internet connection, and not for the traffic - thus extra traffic will not hurt."
    In Europe, yes. But in many other areas, paying the other way is more common. It's a bad policy, but it's a money well that ISPs aren't going to stop drilling of suddenly because they developed "conscience".

    "Also, many contracts with ISPs specify that the connection may not be shared with other persons."
    Another money well, this time common even in Europe. I can almost see their reasoning behind hanging onto it though. The irony here is IPv6 is the solution for that also, but it requires some investment, so naturally they prefer to resist change.

    @Derek M
    "What if Google had a public VPN?"
    What would be the point of that? Seeing everyone as if we're one big LAN? Oh, the horror. No thank you.

    "How does television/radio/wifi/every other signal affect our bodies? Does it?"
    Some researches say Wi-Fi makes you forget. I forgot where I saw it though :-D .
  • Apr 16 2011: I live 500 feet from a university, yet I pay $80 a month for 25mb Charter cable.

    My computer detects 20 locked wireless networks. All of them have tons of excess capacity, and the signals interfere with each other slightly.

    Oh yeah, one of the main reasons people lock their routers (and should) is that people can monitor LAN networks and open ones to capture ALL of your unencrypted communications (http = unencrypted. https = secure connection). Lookup a program called FireSheep. How can THIS be fixed?

    What if Google had a public VPN?

    The solution? WiMAX or there is a new technology coming along using the same low frequency (I guess...) as TV channels, the FCC allocated some frequencies for long range blanket wireless internet.

    Internet connections aren't cheap, wireless routers don't go that far (50 feet away and you won't get hardly any), LANs are usually very insecure, and the freeloader problem would be a nuisance unless you're in a wealthy neighborhood.

    As far as traffic, MOST ISPs have a bandwidth limit, they will either send you warning letters not to do it again or will throttle your bandwidth significantly until your monthly limit resets.

    MAYBE in cities with Google Fiber or any free internet (or university/schools/public buildings) then there could be community initiatives to have powerful and secure routers, if that's possible.

    I would be interested in some kind of initiative to make wireless routers which simply amplify 4g signals and could be placed anywhere. How would DSL/satellite/cable ISPs respond to 4g stealing their customers?

    I certainly would feel better knowing that there were less wireless signals penetrating my walls. How does television/radio/wifi/every other signal affect our bodies? Does it?